May 23, 2005
Why Words Matter
Who is Luis Posada? If his Wikipedia entry is any indication he's a terrorist who has launched attacked on Communist Cuba. His most well-known attack was on "a Cuban airliner over Barbados in 1976, in which all seventy-three people onboard were killed." The plane started out in Caracus, which means Hugo Chavez' country is involved. Both the CIA and FBI suspected Posada days after the attack. Posada is now in U.S. custody for illegally entering the U.S. The question becomes "What to do with him?" The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board understands that both Venezuala and Cuba have corrupt legal systems and suggests Pasada stand trial in Italy. The newspaper wants Pasada "before a court of law, where the facts can be brought forth and punishment, if necessary, meted out."
Now, a reader should ask himself, "Why is the Journal Sentinel editoral board so concerned about a little-known Latin American terrorist?" Because with Pasada's case they can try to punch some holes in the Bush administration's "War on Terror."
Here's where they begin:
If Posada had been trying to bring down the government of, say, Brazil, he would have been promptly and accurately accused of terrorism. But because Posada has been trying to overthrow Cuba's Fidel Castro for much of his life, he is supported by some members of the politically powerful Cuban expatriate community in Miami.
The JS imply democratic Brazil is the moral equivalent of communist Cuba. In their eyes toppling Cuba would be just as bad as toppling Brazil. While Brazil is considered "Mostly Unfree" by the Heritage Foundation-Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom it is better than Cuba's listing as "Unfree" (along with Venezula). Freedom House considers Brazil "Free"with free elections and a privately owned media. "Not Free" Cuba possesses neither of these. Brazil has plenty of room from improvement, but it certainly doesn't need to be liberated like Castro's prison island.
The editorial board then gets to the crux of their Bush attack:
Granting political asylum to Posada would make this country look - or reveal it to be - two-faced and duplicitous in its war on terrorism. Intentionally killing or injuring non-combatants for political reasons is a defining feature of terrorism, and it doesn't matter whether the civilians are working at the World Trade Center in New York or riding a Cuban airliner.
Part of this stems from the JS' moral relativism. But a good portion of the fault lays at the Bush administration for calling our present war the "War on Global Terrorism." "Global Terrorism" isn't what attacked New York City and Washington, D.C. on Sep. 11, 2001. Terrorism can't attack. It only describes an action. On that fateful fall day in 2001, a group of radical Islamic terrorists--Islamists--shed innocent blood on the U.S. Ever since the attacks this administration has bent over backwards not to call this conflict a war on Islam. Their intentions may be good--creating anti-Islam fear in the U.S. would only hurt too many innocents.
Move beyond the Bush administration's descriptions to what they've done. For being a "War on Global Terrorism" the U.S. has done little to eliminate the IRA or Basque separatists in Spain. What has been done are invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. There has also been military assistance in the Philipines and tough talk toward Iran. What all these areas have in common are they are dealing with Islamists, those followers of Islam who want their religion to rise from the blood and ash of the West.
But by being too sensitive and refraining from naming the war correctly as the "Islamist War" this administration has confused many as to what we are fighting against. The JS editorial board is one confused group. This isn't to day those men and women in their downtown Milwaukee offices shouldn't have used their faculties more to figure out some terrorists are more a threat to the U.S. than others.
"Send Posada to Courtroom"
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]